Reflecting on AFF One Year Later

Austin Film Festival - FilmFreeway

Last year at this time I was preparing to head off to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriter’s Conference. My first (and only) time at any such event. I had finally chosen to invest in myself, and I was so excited at the prospect.

I had no real idea of what to expect.

It was more than I imagined. A year later and I’m still beyond delighted I chose to go. I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. I was listening to professionals offer sage advice and found the common thread that united us all. We were creatives. I was invigorated and inspired, and made the decision to quit my exhausting-body wrecking-causing-me-to-drink job on the second night. I did my best to get out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers to start conversations knowing the purpose of my attendance was to meet other writers. And I did.

And one year later, many of them are doing amazing things.

And I…am envious.

I had big plans after the conference. I did indeed quit my job. Upon my return home, I gave notice and it was like a weight was immediately lifted. The Sis and I began talking about a move because Las Vegas was only meant to be temporary and it had been 5 years. I started to formulate a plan for, not only my writing goals, but also my life goals. Things were looking up.

We visited Washington state in March as a research trip for the move just as the first cases of the virus made their appearance. And it went downhill from there.

I was suddenly frozen. The uncertainty of it all…I was at a loss of how to proceed. In those early months, thinking about writing, of being creative was nearly impossible. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a blog post to commiserate.

I was in awe of those people who were going about their “business as usual”. That mentality escaped me, for a long time. I could barely find comfort or escape in a film, and have found myself way behind in my “One Movie a Week Challenge”. I never expected to be so affected by anxiety. Thankfully, in all this, I discovered yoga.

Then there’s the political stage.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the news and feel a sense of relief instead of all this?!

So here I am. A year after one of the most inspiring, motivating weekends in my life, and am no better for it. One friend is waiting to hear back on a directing fellowship for her short. One is meeting with a producer for her unique script. One is winning competitions and shooting a script. One is currently directing her project, pitching other ideas while on set, and winning awards.

I am absolutely thrilled for them all! It is inspiring to know these women as they make their way in the industry. And these are also the people I am in awe of. While I found myself almost paralyzed by indecision and the external constraints, they endured.

When it became clear that there was no immediate relief in sight, and after reading a poorly written published novel, I got off my ass and started to write. It’s been slow, but the spark is there. I realized, finally, that no matter what was happening outside, I am miserable and without purpose when I’m not pursuing my dream. I have had too many gaps in my life of not writing and focusing on irrelevant things, and I always regret those times. Time wasted.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

The older I get, the more I understand how precious time truly is. Should I fail to succeed in the pursuit of my dream of becoming a professional writer, I’m not sure how that will feel in the end. I don’t like the way it feels now.

So, it’s taken nearly a year to come back to the realization, but here I am. I’m grateful to those at AFF who gave me so many opportunities to meet the fearless women I now call my friends. I wish them every success, and hope to count my own among theirs soon.

My Dragon Age 4 Wish List

Dragon Age 4 “behind-the-scenes” snippet shows off concept art and  works-in-progress - VideoGamer.com

For those of you who have been with me for a while now, you know of my long love affair with the series Dragon Age. I have taken part in nearly every aspect of the fandom – the love runs deep. Very few details have been released in the last couple of years in regards to the next installment since it was teased at the 2018 Game Awards. And when any little hint does come to light, fans analyze every minute detail for clues and concoct wild theories based on the scarce evidence.

The Art Of Dragon Age 4 - Concept Art and Making Of

December tends to be DA news month but Christmas came early this year when a number of images of concept art were recently released. You can imagine the subsequent frenzy that ensued. With the release of the latest novel, Tevinter Nights, characters both new and familiar were revealed along with story details that we could weave together in the hopes of understanding where the next game would lead us.

Dragon Age 4' Gamescom reveal highlights wild new landscapes and characters

In the FB group I’m a part of, people regularly prompt the members by asking what they want to see in the next game. Besides better hairstyles, which is a major pet peeve among us (I even wrote about it a while back), there are a lot of ideas floating around. With all this in mind, I’ve decided to share my own take on what I’d like to see in the next game. Here are my top 7. I tried to stop at 5 but that was difficult, so I’ll do my best to be concise.

*This will include spoilers if you have not read the comics and books, and with the understanding that the reader has played the games.

Every Dragon Age 4 Screenshot or Piece of Concept Art Revealed So Far
  1. The return of the Hero of Ferelden. The protagonist of Origins, the tainted hero who saves the world from The Blight we learn, years later in Inquisition, is in search of a cure for what will eventually kill them. My hope is that we are given closure to this storyline and the character that brought us into the series in the first place.
  2. The trouble with the Grey Wardens and the return of griffons. In the closing credits of Inquisition we learn that something is happening within Warden ranks and Weisshaupt has gone quiet. In the novel, Last Flight, we learn the fate of the griffons during the 4th Blight and the possibility of their return. I’m a fan of the Wardens, one of their symbols is part of my tattoo (I told you, the love runs deep, skin deep 😉 ), so I’d like to revisit the order and learn what’s going on.
  3. The return of beloved characters. Dragon Age needs to follow Mass Effect’s format of reintroducing characters and bringing us closure, especially in light of the position many of our favorite companions have or may have found themselves in since we last saw them.
    • Sten is now Arishok, as revealed in the comic series, The Silent Grove, and with the Qunari threat revealed in Inquisition and the war in Tevinter, he should make an appearance as the commander of the military.
    • Zevran and the Antivan Crows. There is a chapter in Tevinter Nights that deals with the leaders of the houses of the assassin’s guild, one of them being the house of Aranai. Zevran has made an appearance, in some form, in all three games so with this history, and the disarray that the Crows may find themselves in since the enlightening chapter, he should reappear. There is concept art that shows a Crow, and he’s also an elf. ((wink wink))
    • Fenris received his own comic recently, Blue Wraith, although there wasn’t enough of him in it for my liking. The story involves the Qunari and Tevinter so he should make an appearance. And fans would be thrilled. We love Broody!
    • Merrill, I think, is a shoe-in for a reappearance. In DA2 she was working at restoring an eluvian, and after Inquisition, we’re all aware of their importance. As an elf with strong ideas of keeping elven traditions alive, she’d make a great recruit for the Dread Wolf’s army.
    • Dorian & Isabela also appear in the concept art, and given Tevinter as a most likely location for the bulk of DA4, it’s only natural to presume Dorian would be a major player. Isabela has also made an appearance in all three games, in some way, and with her history with the Qunari I think it’s time to get reacquainted with the admiral.
  4. The return of “The One” sacrificed to be left in the Fade. Depending on the world state you imported into Inquisition, you will be faced with a potentially difficult decision at the end of Here Lies the Abyss, a mission in which you choose between leaving Hawke, the much loved protagonist from DA2 or a Grey Warden, one of whom could be the adorkable Alistair, behind. If Solas succeeds in his mission to tear down the veil, it is my hope this character will be revealed escaping or strutting out of the Fade, given who it might be.
  5. The Architect and the strange experiments with the darkspawn. The Architect was an intelligent darkspawn introduced to us in the Origin’s DLC, Awakening. He was attempting to free the darkspawn from their compulsion to awaken the Old Gods hence starting another Blight and actually started the 5th. He can just disappear at the end of the DLC and then we learned in Tevinter Nights that the darkspawn are experimenting on each other creating even more terrifying abominations. There’s something weird going on there, and I’m not sure I truly want to know why. But I do.
  6. Learning the true purpose of the ancient Elven Artifacts that we turn on as we run about in Inquisition. Solas tells us that these globe-like items will help to strengthen the veil, but since it’s his intention to tear it down, what purpose do they really serve?
  7. I hope we return to being able to use the Ability Wheel from Origins and DA2; the option to open the wheel of all those abilities you have acquired so you can actually use everything in your arsenal instead of having to pick and choose.
I Rank the Dragon Age 4 Concept Art on How Much I Want to Date Everyone -  Gayming Magazine

With all I have to say on this subject, I couldn’t share all the artwork too, so here is a link to see all the beautiful designs.

Dragon Age 4' Gamescom reveal highlights wild new landscapes and characters

Are you as excited as I am for the next installment? What are your hopes for Dragon Age 4? It’s still a ways off but hopefully there will be another book, or comic, or more hopeful news, like a release date in December (or all of the above) to tide us over. ((sob)) Want to commiserate with me? Let’s talk Dragon Age!

Writing Prompt #116

who goes there...

I like the idea of images that can be seen in a number of ways. Is this a playful image? Teasing? Or is it of a more somber nature? Menacing?

For this week’s writing prompt challenge, I offer you this. What do you see?

I look forward to seeing your creations!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #24

It’s been over two years since my last WPC?! Eek! That’s not good.

I’ve been inspired by a number of the images I’ve shared, so I really have to take responsibility for my inaction. A resounding theme in my life lately. Well, some of that can be blamed on “things outside of my control”.

When I started the prompt series, it was in an effort to build a community, so I’d be thrilled if you’d like to take part. Should you find a writing prompt here – there are a few off to the side or you can use the search bar – that inspires you, tag me and please allow me to share your work. Let’s build a positive writing community together!

I use the prompts as an opportunity to create a space for free writing, something I rarely find myself capable of in my professional writing. These are short, usually around 200 words, with little forethought or editing. Here is my submission for this week’s challenge:

The hallway was dark. Hannah, barefooted, tip toed toward the daylight that awaited her at the other end. She ran one hand along the wall to feel the old, rough stone bricks while her gown swished at her feet as pace hastened.

Without knowing why, her heart swelled at the thought of what lay beyond.

The hallway had brought her to the rear of an English manor nestled in the country. Stairs led down to a well-kept garden and a sweet surprise she dared not believe. Cautious that the leaves would be sure to give away her presence, she took careful steps until she could nearly reach out and touch him.

Evan turned simultaneously and captured her in his warm embrace. His exhale of relief at holding her in his arms caused his arms to tighten.

Hannah couldn’t recall how she had come to arrive here, or why her heart recognized the man who held her when her mind didn’t, but at the moment, it didn’t matter. She felt like she had just found home.

~ * ~

As I mentioned in the prompt’s post, this image reminded me of my screenplay, 217. It’s a story about how Hannah finds Evan in the in-between moments of a near death experience. And now I’m going to go write! Or should I say, rewrite.

I look forward to reading your creations! Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #115

In preparation for our move, I’ve gone through nearly every piece of paper in my office, multiple versions of my scripts included. A thousand pages of repetitive screenplays with minor changes between them were just sitting on the shelf, taking up space, for no reason.

There’s an odd thing that happens to writers who reread their work years later…they often find themselves surprised that they wrote it.

I know my stories. I was there when they were conceived 😉 but sometimes you find yourself in awe of a golden nugget or two buried within them.

Rereading multiple versions of my screenplays all in one go reaffirmed my desire to continue writing them. All of my stories are in need of a rewrite. For a while now, I thought some of them were only in need of a polish, but on reflection, there are some major things I want to change. To every. single. one. An unfortunate side effect to gaining more experience and insight and developing my writing skills further. Oh gawd. I may be George Lucas.

So it was when I saw this image, which reminds me of one of my stories, that I found myself drawn to it, and wanting to explore it. So I wrote something (yay!) and hope you will join me in this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge.

If you find yourself inspired, don’t forget to share!

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I finished reading a published novel yesterday written by a NYT bestselling author that, in all honesty, sort of pissed me off in its poorly written mediocrity. While I’ve struggled to write, not only because of the state of things, but also because The Sis and I are planning a move (which has been temporarily put on hold due to the state of things), one of the positives to come out of reading such a thing is the inspiration it instilled in me to get back to writing my own stories.

Pick at least one thing you love doing each day & watch your energy increase.

I have felt tired lately. Without something to be excited about, i.e. my writing, I don’t feel a sense of purpose, hence the boredom equates to fatigue. The Sis even mentioned it, so it’s noticeable.

So join me in finding some joy today! Let’s create something that stirs the imagination and reminds us what we’re passionate about!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #114

Writing Prompt Wednesdays are back!

Yes, I know.

Given my Quote of the Week yesterday, this prompt seemed a bit apropos, if not oddly humorous. Oh, is it just me?!

If you’re new here, the prompts are meant to inspire and engage. If you find inspiration, please be sure to share or tag so we can all enjoy!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

It’s been a rough few months, and for those of us in the US, there doesn’t really seem to be any relief in sight. At least not for the next 42 days.

There’s a lot to be said. There’s a lot to be done. Let’s use our voices. Let’s work together.

Be well!

Staying Positive in Strange Times

woman sitting while showing heart sign hands

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while.

I hope you and your loved ones are well.

I have started a number of posts over the last month and have deleted each one.  I haven’t had anything to say because sharing quotes about following your dreams, or tips about writing, or what I’ve watched all seem rather trite given the circumstances.

I give my fellow bloggers props for being able to continue in light of everything.

But then I thought, at some point, we’ll get past this pandemic and some sort of new normal will begin, and so I should probably come out of the shadows.  Staying positive during these strange times has been a running theme from a lot of what I’ve seen, and the creative, funny, inspiring sides of humanity have prevailed, mostly – there is always, of course, a flip side – but I like to be positive too.

Sometimes that’s difficult.

I have long struggled with my writing.  Blogging too, obviously.  While my writing should be an escape from the real world, and it’s what I want to do in life, there are too many times when my writing has taken a back seat.  I have discovered that I often feel guilty for wanting to write when there are other pressing matters, like planning a move out of state (or abroad) or starting an Etsy shop to alleviate some our burden and aid in the move.

For the last few months I couldn’t turn my mind to writing as it felt like a reward I didn’t deserve.

Strange, right?!

I willingly quit my job late last year.  I was deeply dissatisfied, and because our move was to take place only a couple of months later, I didn’t seek out another one.  My plan was to organize the house, sell or donate what I could, and get us ready for the next move.  I think not having a job, made me feel like I needed to overcompensate in the other areas of my life so that I didn’t seem like I was taking advantage of the situation.  For the first couple of months, I didn’t even take a “day off”.

Then the virus happened.

Not much happened to me, personally, to change my day to day but because I was already in this particular mindset, the extra time so many people were given started a trend that I found sort of infuriating.  You may have seen them, they said things like this:

If you don’t find the time to write now, you’re not really a writer.

Ugh.

People are already struggling enough with a myriad of issues, and then to throw this into the mix, to make one feel defeated…argh.  Thankfully, wiser people countered with responses like the “boat” analogy.

We are sailing in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

*If you’d like to read the whole thing, let me know and I’ll post it in the comments.

Eventually, with the move decided upon, the Etsy shop open, and enough organizational projects completed, I finally felt like I had “permission” to write.

Permission to create…permission to follow my dream…sigh.  And I have.  Not everyday, but more than I have in months.

And it’s not like I wasn’t thinking about writing all this time.  I’ve been reading, watching the MasterClass series, I’ve been keeping my journal, and I’ve had story ideas.  So while the physical act of writing may not be happening consistently, the other aspects of a writer’s life are, and with that understanding, I’ve stopped being so hard on myself.

Do you know how hard it is to ignore that nagging “you should be writing” feeling?!  You can only do it for so long before it drives you mad.

Writers are so hard on themselves.

When I came to this realization, I figured there may be others who feel the same way, and maybe need to hear this too.

Hi!  You’re not alone!

So whether you’re writing everyday, or just thinking about it, cut yourself a little slack.  As writers, we’ve already chosen a lonely, difficult path, and we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. There are plenty of other people, always at the ready, to knock us down.  Ourselves included.  Compound this with a global pandemic, and the need for some positivity, something I enjoy, is needed more than ever!

So here’s one of my Quote Mondays from the past.

Persevere1

If you need support, in any way, please let me know and let’s stick together!

xx, Rach